1978 Formula 1 World Champion Mario Andretti is expecting to see a three-way fight for the Constructors’ Championship this season, with the American legend believing that Mercedes “will fight back” in 2023.
Andretti isn’t the only person to have tipped a Mercedes comeback this year, with many expecting the Silver Arrows to immediately bounce back from their miserable 2022 campaign.
Last season wasn’t great for the Germans, who fell to their lowest result in the Constructors’ Championship since finishing fifth in 2012.
Mercedes claimed third last season, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton having been nowhere near the title fight.
The Brackley-based team made somewhat of a mess of the new aerodynamic regulations, after designing a car that was likened to peeling an onion.
Each time the side solved a fault with the W13, another appeared, a cycle that continued for Mercedes across the vast majority of the season.
They did eventually claim a win at the Brazilian Grand Prix, marking something to celebrate.
The question now, though, is will they be celebrating victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix?
Mercedes have been working relentlessly over the winter and have supposedly fixed the issues that the W13 had, suggesting that the Germans will be back at the front in 2023.
“You have to assume that they will fight back as hard as they have always done,” Andretti told RTL.
Andretti is already excited ahead of the season with the prospect of a potential three-team title fight, with the American questioning if McLaren might be able to get involved on the odd occasion.
“So can you imagine if we had three teams fighting hard, and then every now and then a fourth team like McLaren sticks their nose in?” Andretti added.
Should Mercedes return to the front, then it will offer Russell his first chance to fight for a World Championship.
The former Williams driver displayed his talent on several occasions last year, with the Brit having often outperformed his seven-time World Champion team-mate.
Andretti views Russell as a “revelation”, with the 24-year-old having claimed Mercedes’ only pole position and victory in 2022, highlighting his ability to extract performance from an underperforming car.
“If you look at his performance last year, not only in qualifying but also his strength in the race, you have to see him as a revelation,” he said.